Advanced search

new Pope

(86 Posts)
HairyHandedTrucker Wed 13-Mar-13 19:14:26

he's a scientist apparently. does it give us hope?

MechanicalTheatre Thu 14-Mar-13 15:56:54

I see what you mean, LRD, but Catholics were persecuted in Germany too. The Holocaust was not purely about Jews.

Nebulous, I haven't, but it sounds interesting. I know that when I was doing GCSE-equivalent German, we watched a video of a modern secondary school. There was some graffiti on a wall that said "Nazis Raus" (Nazis Out). When asked what we thought it meant, the majority said "Yay Nazis" or "Nazis are great" or whatever.

MechanicalTheatre Thu 14-Mar-13 16:01:33

But he was a fourteen year old boy! And beyond that, I really don't think they had ANY choice. As far as I've read, their names were automatically stuck on a list.

Dictatorships are so far from black and white. If he resisted what would have happened? His family are persecuted, dragged off to a camp somewhere and exterminated? More catholics are prosecuted because one stood up and said "no"?

Do you really think that people would have said "thank you so much for your moral courage!" I doubt it. I think they'd have damned him. It is very easy to stand here today, with freedom of speech and freedom of choice and say "why didn't someone say something?" But the choice between good and evil is really not always clearcut.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 16:01:36

I do know that mech. But it's not the point I'm trying to make.

My issue is that this theology behind the papacy just isn't something that makes sense of atrocities. Maybe it was once, when the world was a lot smaller and more violent and we knew less about what was happening elsewhere, but it doesn't make sense now.

I got taught about WWII by a really excellent teacher who was very keen to explain to us how it was not simple, there were many complications and many Germans who were in hugely difficult positions (as well as many people in the UK who were very anti-semitic). We were taken to listen to a woman who'd been in one of the death camps as a small child, and she told us how anti-semitic her experience of them, later, growing up in the UK had been. How people had told her (when they didn't realize she was Jewish) that Hitler had had the 'right idea' about the Jews. sad

I think it is all horribly sad, but I do think it really throws into relief how the theology doesn't work any more. How can someone know about what goes on in the world, and not speak out?

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 16:02:39

mech - but that's the point. The choice betwen good and evil isn't clear-cut. The theology of the papacy is that this is the one human being on earth who can make those differences clear cut. That is why it is so problematic.

MechanicalTheatre Thu 14-Mar-13 16:07:34

OK, but then what is the solution? To not have someone who has any sort of moral quandary in their past be pope? That's not going to happen. There's already stuff about the new pope, and there was stuff about John Paul II. There will always be moral quandaries in everyone's life.

I don't think the catholic church claims that the pope knows inherently the difference between good and evil.

I find it quite odd to be in the position of defending the catholic church, here, by the way! I can't stand religion! But at the end of the day, we have a pope. People believe in God. And since I don't see any of that going away any time soon, I think that whoever we do have should be judged as fairly as possible.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 16:14:13

I think the solution is to get rid of the theology surrounding the Pope. To adapt, and to give one person less power. To say, no, this person isn't Christ's vicar on earth.

That's just my view.

I do get where you're coming from, btw. I've just been trying to think about it a lot, and what I keep coming back to is that it is fundamentally unfair and irrational - both for the Pope and for the Catholic world - to keep trying to maintain this situation.

HairyHandedTrucker Thu 14-Mar-13 16:44:26

sorry to sound a bit dim, but isn't he only god's voice on earth during his Pope-hood (papacy?) otherwise god would have 2voices now anyway as ratzinger is still alive?

grimbletart Thu 14-Mar-13 16:44:30

Going back to the new pope... I was listening to the World at One today and how it went on about Pope Francis caring about the poor and how he used to visit the poor districts and spend time with the people etc. and help them, I couldn't help thinking that his compassion for the poor would be far more useful and enrich many more lives if it led to the Catholic Church changing its stance on contraception......

HairyHandedTrucker Thu 14-Mar-13 16:45:49

*atheist and out of my depth as I'm sure is totally obvious

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 16:46:37

hairy - he's only Christ's vicar during his papacy, yes. I just feel it is increasingly difficult to explain how ordinary, fallible humans are granted so much power, and this is just one example to make us think. But thatis only my opinion.

grimble - as I understand it he belives condoms should be used to stop the spread of disease. That is a start, I suppose.

AnnabelKarma Thu 14-Mar-13 16:55:18

As an atheist feminist I have so many fundamental problems with organised religions per se and even more with catholicism. For all the reasons already mentioned - abuse of women and children, accumulation of immense wealth whilst turning a blind eye to poverty and AIDS, misogyny , blind, unquestioning following .

Hmm, best not get me started.

thecapitalsunited Thu 14-Mar-13 17:39:34

I could be wrong but don't Catholics believe that becoming Pope gives you Holy Spirit superpowers? So it doesn't matter to them if the guy isn't perfect because God will guide them to the right decision regardless, just as God guided the cardinals to choose the right man for the job.

I don't believe in any gods and am not Catholic so I could be wrong.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 17:46:10

Catholics believe that the Pope is guided by the Holy Spirit, and is the Vicar (which means, person acting as stand-in) of Christ. The idea is that God guided the cardinals, and that the Holy Spirit guides the pope.

The Pope has authority to give a definitive view. He doesn't just express his opinion as an ordinary human being who happens to be working for the Church - he's God's representative on earth.

Since Vatican II, there have been quite important changes within the Church, and over the last century the office of Pope has been associated with less and less ceremony. So I think it would be a natural process to lessen this still further.

FairPhyllis Thu 14-Mar-13 17:59:53

I don't quite understand what you mean by 'the theology of the papacy' LRD. Do you mean the administrative authority of the Pope over the rest of the RCC, or do you mean something like the view that he is Christ's primary representative on earth? (which of course isn't the view of many Christians anyway)

If it's the latter, then I think it is quite harsh to expect any pope to be a totally morally pure figure, and in fact St Peter would fail your test - you don't get more compromised than denying Christ publically. Yet Jesus still chose him knowing he would do this.

I mean, isn't the whole theology of priesthood that God uses imperfect people to share in Christ's priesthood and represent Him? Can't God call people who are seriously flawed and work through them?

I suppose my view is that God will work through the Church if He chooses despite the people.

FairPhyllis Thu 14-Mar-13 18:00:26

Crossposted. Will come back to this in a few minutes.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 18:07:22

I mean the theology that concerns the Papacy.

I accept it is harsh to expect any pope to be morally pure. I don't expect any pope to be morally pure. The Catholic Church accepts that one may be deeply sinful, and then redeem oneself. What (IMO) the Catholic Church does not really have a theological provision for, is a situation where one might be aware of horrible inequality and oppression in the world, and yet one might be unable to make a meaningful stand against it.

IMO this is different from the idea that God works perfection through imperfect humanity. I think that is a powerful idea, but I think the idea behind the papacy is really rooted in the assumption that the pope will be able to make meaningful statements about the whole Church. The Pope cannot - in this day and age - do this. Hitler Youth is only one example of why.

MechanicalTheatre Thu 14-Mar-13 18:18:55

I do like this new pope more than the old pope. He seems to genuinely live a very humble life, baptises the children of single mothers when others wouldn't, goes out into the slums, campaigns for social justice...OK, he is not perfect. But to have compassion for the poor, to speak up for those who are shunned and to eschew a lavish lifestyle are more than a lot of people do.

Honestly, it just makes me a bit sad that some people's first reaction (not on this thread, it's been very measured) is to try to find the bad/immoral stuff. My first impulse is to always look for the good in people - maybe I'm just naive/wildly optimistic.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 18:35:19

I like this new pope too.

I like to look for the good in people.

I think as an individual, he may be great. And I am holding out hopes that his papacy will see great strides forward. But, I feel uncomfortable with the idea that a pope who's got a history of objecting to other priests refusing to baptise the children of single mothers, is a positive thing. Surely it is a huge issue that anyone has ever thought it was ok not to baptise the children of single mothers? I don't know the Catholic doctrine that says that is an acceptable viewpoint, and if it exists, it is disgusting.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, sure, I want to look for the good, but there's the individual man (who may pretty impressive and saintly, or may be misguided, or may be both), and then there's the office. I find it hard to celebrate the filling of that office.

MechanicalTheatre Thu 14-Mar-13 18:38:16

I see what you mean LRD, but I am a hopeless optimist (Sagittarian, you know) and would at least be happier to have a good and nice pope since we seem to have to have one.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 18:40:04

Oh, optimism is good! I should be less of an Eeyore-type.

I do hope he proves to be a good pope. I see no reason not.

MechanicalTheatre Thu 14-Mar-13 18:47:06

I get Eeyore-ish very quickly because I am continually disappointed after my optimism though. Hurrah hurrah hurrah OH NO OH GOD.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 19:23:41


I know exactly what you mean. And how you put it.

But let's hope optimism has a cause here, you're right.

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 20:28:09

"A good pope". Umm. What would a good pope do?

Open all church offices to everyone. Cease making pronouncements about sexual matters (contraception and homosexuality notably). Prepare to discuss possible links between priestly celibacy and child molestation. Make an honest appraisal of the Inquisition. Explain the real theological significance of the so-called Virgin Mary, justifying same by biblical references. But then explain the lack of real female religious figures (no St Bernadette doesn't count) throughout history. Advise Catholics on how to proceed from this point. Sounds like a plan.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 14-Mar-13 20:33:16

Precisely, tei, Let's hope.

FairPhyllis Thu 14-Mar-13 20:45:43

But LRD you seemed to be saying that Benedict personally (and perhaps Francis too if the stuff about his actions under the junta is true) was irreversibly tainted by his compromise with Nazism and shouldn't have been Pope because of it. You're still saying that making the choice he made is a qualitatively different kind of sin/evil which is so bad the RCC shouldn't have touched him with a bargepole because otherwise it would compromise its own moral purity.

My difficulty with this is that it just wholly clashes with my conception of sin and what the church is. I don't think there are special kinds of sin, I don't think any church is an inherently holy institution, and I think that attempting to “buy” institutional moral innocence, or the appearance of it, is a doomed enterprise which can have terrible results.

None of this makes any sense from a Catholic point of view anyway, because talking about whether Benedict/Francis is morally fit for office is projecting a Protestant attitude of 'authority by personal virtue' onto Catholic structures of governance. RCs don't believe bishops and popes have authority because they are personally morally worthy of it - they believe they have authority by virtue of their divinely-instituted office, and are as likely as any of us to sin in any kind of way. And in the worst cases bad bishops and popes can obstruct the will of God and damage the Church's reputation. But ultimately Catholics don't think that matters because in their view nothing can wholly derail the Church or prevent God's will from ultimately being done.

IMO we do have a way of dealing with the sin people and institutions commit in the face of oppression. It's called confession and repentance – and that is something the RCC and Christians in general are not good enough at.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now